The root of 3

The Stately Lily of the Nile or Arum lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica, luxuriates in the wild in the swamps and lake margins of southern and eastern Africa. But it is far more adaptable and hardy than is often imagined, making an excellent contrast to ferns in a moist shady border.

A thoroughly regal plant, it carries itself with great dignity and bearing and, though best known for its flowers, it makes a foliage plant as dramatic as the Hostas (and less prone to slug damage). It has large unbroken, arrow-shaped, wavy-edged leaves which reach well over a foot long and have a fine, curling point. They are glossy, dark-green and held on clumps of strong, fleshy stems 3ft high. The flowers that rise above this foilage in summer are elegant, striking and strange. A central, finger-like, creamy- yellow spike surrounded by a smooth, creamy-white cloak that fades imperceptibly to green where it meets the flower stem.

The Arum's favoured home is the boggy water's edge. But how many of us have a lake in our gardens? Fortunately, they are also happy in moist and well-fed borders, in pots or submerged in the pond. They like sun or light shade. In the mildest gardens, their handsome foliage remains evergreen, otherwise they disappear below ground in winter. Cover the crowns well with a thick mulch to keep out frost.

The Ostrich feather or Shuttlecock fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris, is completely hardy. It likes moisture, light shade and rich soil and has an elegance to match that of the Arum lily. The difference in foliage could not be greater, its finely divided, light-green fronds a marked contrast to the solid, dark green Arum leaves. True to its name, this fern arranges its fronds in the form of a shuttlecock. In the centre of the circle it produces a yearly crop of brown, felty, seed-bearing fronds slightly shorter than the surrounding foliage. In summer, they are not very obvious but as the encircling fronds die away at the year end, they are left to stand alone through the winter.

Finally, at ground level, plant the very ordinary Dead nettle, Lamium maculatum f. album, to interweave with its companions. Its leaves have silver-white variegations and it bears small, lipped, pure white flowers. Its carpet-forming vigour is its virtue and its vice, so every now and then you may have to keep its spread in check.

John the Gardener

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

    £40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

    Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

    £26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

    £17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific